Here I am!
So at long last, I am in London. I am currently sitting in the Great Room (aka the front room that they are redoing) at the Astor Hyde Park hostel. It is a gorgeous 60 degrees out, the sun is shining, and what have I done all day??
Well, actually a lot, but I've been napping on the couches in the Great Room for the last 4 hours or so until I can check into my room. (This is the view from the front of the house)
OK, here is the tale, starting with yesterday:
Yesterday morning I went into Portland to finish up a few things (saying goodbye, running a few errands, etc.) The plan was to meet my parents at home at 12:30 to do one last check of everything, finish loading the car, and leaving for Boston around 2. Yea, about that. First, I got stuck at Kelly Services for an hour because my supervisor was in a meeting and hadn't written my recommendation yet. Finally got out of there around 1pm. Then, they are repaving the main drag by the mall, so I tried to take a long way around the construction, but what happens? I'm at a red light behind this HUGE SUV. She is too far into the intersection, so she gets the brilliant idea to BACK UP. A dented hood and headlight later, we exchange insurance info and I am now over an hour late. Get home--Mom and Dad have been great and packed up the rest of my stuff, but in the shuffle, I lose track of my Bunac handbook (essentially my Bible t this whole crazy trip. We sit in the driveway and do a mental rundown of ANYTHING I could have missed, but of course it doesn't dawn on me until 20 minutes down 112. Turn around, I cry, run into the house, find the cat sleeping on it on my bed, run back out, hit the road. Mom reassures with the good old "bad things happen in 3s--you're done."
So we get the airport, and she's gotta be right--we get there with 2 hours to spare, they weighed my luggage which is 2 pounds over the limit, but they don't charge me any extra money for the weight :-) BWI was never so kind. Then talked with Mom and Dad, did some facebook style pics, and got some parting tokens. The coolest is this little carved heart that my Grandpa gave my mom when she went to Europe. She carried it with her every day. Grandpa carved me a heart shape jewelry box for my graduation gift, and I took that thing to California with me, I love it so much. So she gave me the heart to take with me. I have to bring it home, so it's pretty much going to live in my bra. I don't trust pockets. But then it'll be closer to my heart.
So get on the plane, no trouble. Big Boeing 777, so sat in a middle row, 2nd seat in. Had a kid kicking my seat the whole way, but watched some movies and dozed a bit. Decent food--brought us all hot croissants at 4am to perk us up before getting off.
So, ended up landing an hour early. Hiked a mile to customs, which only took ten minutes. I was so hot and delirious I think I was freaking out the woman. She kept asking if I was excited since I was so red. yay me. Got through there, and picked up my two bags of death. I realize I am packing without knowing what job I'll have, and for winter stuff, but I was on crack. I had to sit for a whole 20 minutes before I could catch my breath to go get on the Tube. Got my Oyster card (apparently it cuts all your fares in half, as long as you keep adding pounds to it), and hopped on the Piccadilly line, dropping my bags at least 3 times. Luckily, Heathrow is the first (last?) Stop, so the train was empty. By the time we got to my South Kensington stop, it was so packed I couldn't reach my bags. I tried to drag them all off, and this nice guy finally grabbed them for me--I think I was the only one who got off on that station.
Here is something they don't tell you about the Tube: half the stations just have stairs. No escalators or elevators. I almost had a heart attack, and actually fell down one flight and banged my elbow. Some angel helped me up and threw my bags up the stairs, and then ANOTHER one took them up the last flight, then gave me directions...kind of. I had a general idea of where I was going, but no one could tell me quite where to turn. So I ran into the 2nd guy who helped me with my bags again, and he told me the best thing I could do with the bags and all was to grab a cab--it wouldn't be more then 5 pounds, and I was hurting. So, equally nice cabbie took me up Queen's Gate Road, and pointed out some sites along the way (also explained about tipping and paying--its hard because they have paper money and coins in 1, 2, and 5 pound denominations, so you grab a coin thinking its 5 pence, and it could be 2 pounds.) I am SO glad I splurged for the cab-5 pounds with tip, didn't break me-because the hostel ended up being almost a full mile and a half from the Tube. Normally walking, thats fine, but not with an extra 150lbs in baggage. WHEW.
Come in, DRIPPING with sweat cuz its me, and the cute guy tells me that I can't check in til 2pm, but showers are on the 1st floor and baggage storage is on the ground. 30 minutes in the shower, the wi-fi password, and a granola bar later, I'm a new woman. Until I pass out on the couch in the Great Room from sheer exhaustion. And this was all before 10am.
Now its a little after 2, and I think I'm going to go check in officially, then go walk around the park. The hostel is having a lasagna dinner tonight for 3 pounds, so I'll probably do that. Tomorrow is Bunac orientation, and a punch party with a few other hostels. Stay tuned!
As far as my mental state, I'm a little overwhelmed, but overall feeling good. I think it'll be better when I get out walking and all that. People have been nice, and I just have to keep an eye on my cash and all that. Miss everyone so much already, and I wish my parents could be here to see this. But I'm ok. Excited, even :)